“You are the books you read, the movies you watch, the music you listen to, the people you spend time with, the conversations you engage in. Choose wisely what you feed your mind.”
Well, yes – if this was COMPLETELY true, I would be a certifiable psychopath who murdered at least one person a week (for real, not just in my head when I have PMS). But as for the rest of the quote – I have to agree wholeheartedly. In the same way that my body (sadly) reflects everything that it’s being fed, my overall well-being is a reflection of what I read, talk about, think about and who I spend time with.
I’ve mentioned before what an eyeopener it was for me to take an emotional thermometer reading before and after spending time on Facebook, and realising that 95% of the time, I felt worse than before. The happy moments and memories and photos on my screen are somehow eclipsed by the bad news, sadness and weight of other people’s stuff – so much so, that I went cold turkey for 3 months before slowly easing my way back to a more comfortable once-a-day Visit. Facebook does have enormous value when used properly – something I am still working on. But it just goes to show that what we feed our mind has an enormous impact on our day.
It’s the same with the car radio – I used to have it on permanently. I would angrily flip from one radio station to the next, and back again, annoyed with show hosts who were talking complete and utter twaddle, avoiding the news, rolling my eyes at yet ANOTHER station bleating out “Hellllooooo, it’s me…” Putting on a CD. Realising I was sick of it. Flipping back to the radio. More talking. More Taylor Swift. More more more. And then I’d fetch children and they’d talk non-stop, and we’d get home and there would be dogs and lawn mowers and phones and squabbling and pots boiling and TVs on. It was never ever quiet – I was never alone with my thoughts. It was never quiet enough to think clearly about stuff that mattered, to process things, to plan, to dream. And yet, I squandered those precious quiet moments when I was alone in the car – choosing instead to have the radio on and fill my head with even more stuff.
And so, I turned it off. It was that simple. From that moment on, I would always turn the radio off when I was alone in the car. Or when fetching children from school so that I could concentrate on what they were saying without any distractions. Sometimes, it was just a few moments to breathe, to think about the day, or to run through what I needed to get done. Other times, I would think through a client’s writing brief and play with a few ideas while away from my desk. And sometimes, I thought about absolutely nothing at all – I just enjoyed the silence.
My older (thinner, more beautiful sister) takes it a step further, and chooses to listen to the latest must-read book on her long drive to work each day. She absolutely loves to read, but finds that she just doesn’t find the time to sit down and enjoy a good book, and by the time she goes to bed, she is too tired to concentrate. So instead, she listens to audiobooks when she’s alone in the car! A previous employee does something similar, and uses her half hour drive to work to listen to TED talks. She finds that she can concentrate fully on what these (insanely clever) people are saying, something she battles to do when at her desk or at home. Sitting in traffic no longer stresses either one of them, because it means more time soaking in the beautiful words that are being read to them while they drive.
I also love the idea of always having TWO books on the go – one that challenges you, and one that relaxes you. Imagine spending just ten minutes a day reading a book that inspires you or teaches you or makes you think, and letting those words sit with you throughout the day. You can totally transform your lunch hour at work (“lunch hour“? I hear you laugh – “how about lunch minutes“?) Instead of grabbing your lunch and eating it at your desk, you can go and find a sunny quiet spot where you can read something amazing while slowly enjoying your lunch. How different will the rest of your day be? How much more valuable will that half hour be than time spent staring at your phone or computer screen?
The very wonderful Robin Sharma talks about the “Holy Hour” (which for him starts at 5am – I mean, REALLY! I didn’t even KNOW there was such a thing as 5am until I read that!) This so-called “holy hour” or “20+20+20 Rule” is something he teaches his business clients in order to unleash massive energy and productivity – and it goes something like this: Spend the first 20 minutes of your day in exercise. The second 20 minutes reviewing your goals and daily plan. The last 20 minutes reading something inspiring or listening to audiobooks so you outperform who you were yesterday. He goes on to recommend that you try this CONSISTENTLY for 7 days and maintains that the results will wow you.
The start to MY days look a whole lot different from Robin Sharma’s – and usually involve staring at the faces of small people in my house and wondering who the hell they are and why they are demanding to be fed. It takes at least two cups of coffee before I even know what day it is, and another hour before I remember who I am. But the premise remains – I do spend 20 minutes each morning making a To Do list and planning what to prioritise, and I try (wherever possible) to watch a TED talk or read something challenging while I eat lunch. Still mostly at my desk (not always in the sun), but it’s still progress!
The bottom line, for me, is to just take stock of what you’re feeding your mind. Could you realistically turn off the car radio, or listen to a book on your drive to work? Could you add 10 or 20 minutes a day when you can schedule time to read/ listen to something that makes you THINK? These TED talks are a great place to start, as are these – scroll through the list and find ones that resonate with you right now.
We have a brand new month ahead of us – the perfect opportunity to turn off the radio, put down the phone and schedule some time each day to feed your mind. I’ll check in with you at the end of May to see what impact it has had and if it’s worth continuing for the rest of 2016. I have a sneaking suspicion you’re going to love it!
- The simple act of creating silence when I’m alone in the car has made an enormous difference – it’s now where I do my best thinking.
- Many of us suffering from feelings of being overwhelmed or burnout will find that we surround ourselves with noise all day every day. We are never quiet. We never have a chance to recharge. We are never alone with our thoughts.
- Carving out just 10 – 20 minutes a day to read/ listen to something valuable makes the biggest difference to my day. TED talks are a great place to start, and I find that lunch time works best for me.